The survival of British seaside towns post-Covid

“Staycations may be on the cusp of a new golden age.”

“The UK is now about to enter an era of increased remote working.”

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The Independent reminds us of a report from the distant past:

In the days before coronavirus existed – April 2019 to be exact – a House of Lords select committee highlighted many of the issues facing seaside towns. In a scathing analysis criticising perpetual underinvestment, the peers recommended a whole raft of measures should be taken: better transport links; faster broadband; increased educational opportunities; and greater funding for local services; and recognised the unique issues – poverty, crime, drug use and mental health – that are often rife.

In our new Covid age, the necessity of such action is starker than ever, analysts suggest.

Covid and the coast: How ripple effect of coronavirus crisis ‘threatens survival’ of British seaside towns | The Independent | The Independent

And the VGS sent in its own contributions at the time:

Lords’ report on Seaside regeneration – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Vision Group report published by House of Lords committee on “Regenerating seaside towns and communities” – Vision Group for Sidmouth

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Last month, concerns were expressed by a coalition of groups representing coastal communities:

Letter to the Prime Minister – Appoint a Coastal Communities Minister please!

Alongside the Local Government Department’s Coastal Interest Group and the Coastal Communities Alliance, we have asked the Prime Minister to appoint a Coastal Communities Minister to provide a joined-up strategy across Whitehall departments to give support to coastal towns and help restore them to pre-Covid levels.

Letter_to_Prime_Minister_Coastal_Communities_Minister_LGA_Coastal_SIG_CCA_NCTA.pdf

Letter to the Prime Minister – Appointment of a Coastal Communities Minister | National Coastal Tourism Academy

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As the piece in the Independent pointed out at the time, there are opportunities too:

Covid and the coast: How ripple effect of coronavirus crisis ‘threatens survival’ of British seaside towns

But amid potential pandemic ruin is historic opportunity, experts say, to transform long-overlooked communities – to benefit of whole country

Already the national lockdown – which wiped out three crucial bank holidays – has cost seaside towns across the country some £10.3bn in lost revenue according to estimates by the National Coastal Tourism Academy…

Long-term decline or not, tourism still generates huge amounts of money for coastal resorts… The problem is that, using the same analogy, it is often the only goose in town. The reliance on this single economic strand makes coastal resorts uniquely vulnerable to contractions… 

But, conversely, there is also hope the pandemic may just provide the much-needed spur required for such long-term change regeneration. Two reasons for this optimism run parallel.

The first is the idea staycations may be on the cusp of a new golden age. With people already looking to reduce their carbon footprint, the new health implications of air travel have arguably made domestic tourism more appealing than ever…

The second reason for optimism is that if, as seems likely, the UK is now about to enter an era of increased remote working, it is our small towns which look likely to be the biggest winners…

Covid and the coast: How ripple effect of coronavirus crisis ‘threatens survival’ of British seaside towns | The Independent | The Independent

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Despite the change in weather over the last couple of days, the media has been very supportive of the staycation:

Tips for setting up a successful holiday let | Herts Advertiser

‘There’s nowhere I’d rather be than Somerset’s quintessential seaside town’ (paywall)

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And there’s more interest in working from a seaside home:

The 10 best coastal towns to relocate to after lockdown | Spectator Life

Remote working could breathe new life into neglected seaside towns across the UK | The Independent | The Independent

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But fear of Covid is not helping:

Welsh anger as Elvis fans arrive in town despite lockdown | Lancashire Telegraph

The cautious Yorkshire seaside town terrified of a coronavirus outbreak – YorkshireLive

Health official urges people not to flock to ‘heaving’ Blackpool | UK news | The Guardian

   
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